UK’s Competition watchdog may probe Motorola’s Airwave network for emergency services. The Airwave network is used exclusively by emergency services for communications in the field. It is encrypted and secure and its exclusivity avoids possible congestion issues that can present themselves on commercial networks.
The network was established in 2000 by BT before being acquired by Motorola for £817 million (US$1.13 billion) in 2015. But in 2014, the UK decided to replace the network entirely with the ESN, which is 4G capable – allowing for more complex data operations to be transmitted by emergency services.
While the ESN was supposed to come online by 2019, replacing Airwave, it has been beset by delays costing taxpayers nearly a £500 million (US$692.2 million) a year in additional funds.
With concerns that the delay could leave the UK’s emergency services with a “potentially catastrophic” six-month gap without their own communications system, the Government was forced to extend Motorola’s contract for operating the Airwave network up to 2022.
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